How to Remove Items From Your Credit Report

January 5, 2012  |  

By now you know that your credit score is important and checking your credit reports is something you should do periodically. If you get that pit in the bottom of your stomach every time someone wants to run your credit, you probably have a few bad marks bringing your score down. Did you know you could remove bad marks from your reports yourself? You can. It just takes some time and a little effort on your part.

Start by requesting a free copy of your credit report from each of the three reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You can contact each agency individually or go to annualcreditreport.com to receive all three in one place. Read each of the reports carefully. Identify the negative accounts that are mistakenly under your Social Security number, including those accounts you never opened and those your last activity on was more than seven years prior. (If the original creditor sold the account to a new creditor, it doesn’t reactivate the account. The roll-off date is still seven years from the last payment or activity from you on the account.)

Once you know which items need to go, contact each reporting agency individually. You can usually call the customer service number but you can also contact them in writing. You’ll need to identify yourself and verify some security information before the agency will speak to you. You may need to fax in a copy of your drivers license and Social Security card if you can’t answer the security questions to the agency’s satisfaction.

Explain what you found. Some mistakes, such as the wrong information on your account, can be fixed immediately. Others may require investigation. The agency contacts the creditor with a request for documentation of the debt, including the date the account was opened and proof of your last activity on the account. If the creditor doesn’t respond with valid information within 90 days, the account comes off your report.

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